PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When it comes to the job market, we don't have to tell you the picture is bleak and unfortunately, it won't just bounce back when the economy re-opens.
The good news: there are things you can do right now to best position yourself for the new normal.
"We got laid off on March 16th," said Robert Lucas.
Lucas was a supervisor at a linen supply company.
"Pretty much I knew it was about to be over with as soon as they closed down the restaurants," he said. "It's really hard."
The same is true for so many in Pennsylvania. Nearly 1.5 million people filed new jobless claims in the past five weeks.
That's 23-percent of the state labor force.
In New Jersey, 817,601 people filed, making up 18-percent of the state labor force. In Delaware, 71,316 people filed, making up 15-percent of the state labor force.
A 6abc data map for Pennsylvania shows the spike in jobless claims has reached a historic level.
And it is the same story in New Jersey and in Delaware.
"The rapid increase in unemployment is unprecedented," said John Dodds, Director of Philadelphia Unemployment Project.
Dodds has been with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project since the 1970s and said he never imagined a situation like this.
"And unfortunately the unemployment system has not been working for them, so we've got people waiting six, seven weeks, haven't heard a thing about whether they're going to get unemployment or are they eligible," said Dodds.
"I had tried to file for unemployment," said Lucas.
Lucas said that was on March 18.
"I still haven't heard anything from unemployment at all whatsoever," he said. "No PIN, nothing."
Lucas said he tried calling the unemployment office 150 times today alone.
Finding a new or replacement job will take extra resourcefulness.
"So over the last six plus weeks, the job market in Greater Philadelphia has pretty much been put on pause," explained recruiter Kristin Kane Ford, of Kane Partners LLC. "What we're starting to see is some of those jobs have either gone away, or they're being restructured."
When we take a snapshot of just one day in our area, job postings are down 35-percent in Pennsylvania, 34-percent in New Jersey, and 33-percent in Delaware. And nearly every sector has been impacted.
"The way we do business moving forward is going to change for all of us," said Kane Ford.
And there are things you should do now to put yourself in the best possible position for our new normal when the economy reopens.
Consider what you did pre-pandemic and what your job will look like post-pandemic.
"Will you be able to go back to a typical nine to five? Will your job require more virtual work?" she said. " So one of the things that you can do as a job seeker is start looking at other states, and what they're doing as they're starting to reopen."
Then be strategic and thoughtful about how you spend your time at home.
"Taking the time now to work on your technology skills, understanding the virtual environment, taking that class you've been putting off for a while. Now is the time to do that," she said.
These are things you should do even if you're still employed.
"Do the extra steps, and tell your employer what you've been doing," she said. "'Here's what's been happening over the last six weeks I'm now able to do X, Y and Z. And this is how, I think what I can bring to the table for my position.'"
Also, this is the time to spruce up your resume, take free classes and webinars being offered by companies and recruiters, and re-connect with people in your network by checking in, asking how they're doing and if there's a way you can help in this time.
"So when the job market comes back online, you will be first in line for that job and for that opportunity," she said.
More tips from Kane Ford:
"As a job seeker right now, reaching out in regards to a job opportunity, now probably isn't the best time to submit a resume.
However, if a company is hiring and there is a listing proceed as normal, make them aware that you are looking, and you're qualified, but for those companies that are not actively mentioning that they're hiring, now's a good time to simply connect use LinkedIn, Facebook and other social platforms to re-establish relationships with people, and being able to re-establish those relationships.
When the job becomes available or company starts to mention, or now accepting applications, you can be first in line and hopefully with an introduction from someone that you know.
So now's a good time. Just make sure that you're pitching yourself as a candidate for the companies that are actively saying they're hiring for those.
Another great strategy would be networking, connecting, asking them how they're doing. Is there anything that they could do in regards to helping their business, because a lot of businesses right now just need help in getting the word out that they are open, although it may be limited capacity.
Simply liking and sharing a status update on social is helping that company. Now is a great time for you to build your LinkedIn profile. Focus on your resume and look beyond your day to day job and think about what your transferable skills are now.
You want to reconnect with your friends, your neighbors your family members, former coworkers, just reach out and say hello. Ask them how they're doing. And you have now reengaged them as a contact.
When it's appropriate, when the jobs become available then you can reach out to that person and start the conversation of asking for help to receive an interview, or to get your resume in front of the right person.
Take advantage of our time now to invest in networking and reconnecting with people."
kane partners free jobseeker webinar, april 29, 2020 3-4pm
great list of free tools to explore during pandemic - which may also help build your resume
Building it Better Together: Preparing for a new job market in a post-pandemic world